A Good Night to be a Republican
It was just two years ago that the punditocracy was writing obituaries for the Republican party. And indeed, the GOP was in disarray. Democrats held solid majorities in the House and Senate, and had just won the White House.
Tuesday night, the pendulum began to swing back, and in the U.S. House of Representatives, it swung back in a big way.
Pretty much everyone except perhaps soon-to-be-former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi saw the changeover coming in the House. As early as Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Pelosi was saying that she would continue on as the leader of the House. And she will … until January.
But even among some of the Republicans I talked to with at the GOP celebration at the Hyatt Tuesday night, it’s clear that while voters chose Republicans, it is in part because they were the “not Democrat” choice. The GOP has to lead, and give the electorate a reason to vote for them again in two years, and to perhaps make Barack Obama a one-term President.
In an election night speech, the likely Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner was frank. He said it was not a time for celebration, and that Republicans were being given an opportunity. But the GOP has a lot to prove, and it will not be time for the party of Lincoln to rest on it’s laurels. They’ll need to roll up their sleeves and show leadership.
That leadership will likely include moves to repeal at least portions of the Obama Health Care Bill, and permanent extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for all Americans. They’ll face opposition in that from the White House, and depending on how the last few races break, likely the Senate as well. Voters expressed their disappointment with the GOP in 2006 and 2008. In 2010, they’ve expressed their disappointment with the Democrats. Republicans have been handed an opportunity, and the need to be up to the challenge.
On the state level, Republicans have taken the offices of Attorney General, CFO, and Agriculture Commissioner, so no matter who is the Governor, they’ll have a Republican cabinet with which to work. The GOP has big majorities in both the state House and Senate, including a potential Senate presidency for John Thrasher at some point during the next four years. That would be a very good thing for NE Florida. So at the state level, it’s been a good night for Republicans as well. The Governor’s race, of course, is turning out to be a classic Florida nail biter. If the margin narrows to less than half of one percent, a recount is mandated. All those paper ballots may come out of storage, and the process could be lengthy.
And finally, Amendment 4 went down to a resounding defeat. Voters in Florida got the message about the disaster that would have been for Florida business and the economy. My best anecdote about Amendment 4 was from a Mayo Clinic official who told a group in a speech that, had it been part of the Florida Constitution, not only would Mayo have not only not considered Jacksonville, it would not have considered Florida. We dodged a real bullet with the defeat of Amendment 4.
So yes, a good night to be a Republican, both nationally and in Florida. For a last bit of good news, nearly half of Duval county residents, 48.16 percent unofficially, turned out to vote. Here’s hoping that enthusiasm for the process is sustainable through the local elections in the spring.